Saturday, 22 May 2010

Green Streets, Stone Churches, and Paved everything.

Today was interesting. I went to a Green Streets workshop. This may or may not be the official way to which the session was referred, but it was a meeting of people with interests in sustainability and quality of life in Leeds in the Left Bank centre on Cardigan Road (a wonderfully large old church now used as a community facility, which hosts precisely this sort of thing) with a table of food, drinks and cake at any rate. To enter, you have your name to a tin wolf.

At the point at which I arrived, everyone had split into groups covering various areas of thought, including education, arts and crafts and transport; it should come as no surprise that I drifted to the latter. There were three others there, including my physchogeographer friend Anzir, and we had some very interesting conversation about the ways in which the small measures which can help reduce the use of cars and reclaim space from cars. We came up with the idea of creating "magical spaces"; small spaces in residential areas that taken from road space and used for nice space; involving green space or places to sit or to play or whatever else, and at the same time helping to impede excessive driving of cars through the area.

After this finished, we summarised and we went for lunch,  we were to have some "conversation" sessions, about particular matters. When we summarised, I felt I hadn't said enough to the group about the matter of the potential means of reclaiming space, and facilitating "attrition of cars by cities", as Jane Jacobs put it - using the new spaces to impede cars being an example of it. So I decided to volunteer to facilitate a conversation on it. That led to an hour and a half's interesting discussion, and after that to me very nervously giving a talk on our findings that I hadn't prepared at all. It seemed appreciated though, at least by some.

So I ended up not really knowing what to expect, and ended up with a whole load of new ideas, and having facilitated a group and given a talk having had very little experience of either. (the former, I found, is very difficult if long tangential are to be avoided).

The findings of this whole session on these matters were sufficiently interesting that I decided to write a blog on it to express them much more coherently than my nervous talk, which is my intention for tomorrow. To conclude the entry tonight, I shall summarise the lessons I learned:
1. If arriving in a place late, look for the waving of a PHD student.
2. Tabouleh is good if you use a whole lot of corriander.
3. Ginger tea isn't much good on a hot day.
4. Car owners don't like it when you suggest they might be wrong to use their cars so much.
5. No one likes First Bus.

Also, it's my birthday. I don't think I mentioned. I'm 21. Happy birthday to me.


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